The Wombats @ o2 Institute, 23 March 2018

The Wombats have come a long way since their 2003 inception. Birthed in Liverpool, the boys joined forces releasing a handful of EPs until the 2006 debut album, which was only released in Japan. Their beginning may have been slow, but the last ten years have proven to be fruitful. Becoming a household name, The Wombats have grown in popularity gracing the sound waves with constant radio hits and flooding the stages of iconic festivals like Glastonbury, T in the Park, and Reading and Leeds. With new album Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life The Wombats take to the worlds stages delivering a vibrant, energetic show at the O2 Institute.

Escaping the cold, crowds wander up the stairs to the O2 Institute’s main room. A distinctive, stifling smell wafts through the air. Like a gym locker room, the room is filled with sweaty teenagers, bumping aloud to the beat on a sweat soaked floor. Dotted amongst them are middle-aged men and mothers dragged to the gigs by their teenage children. It is an interesting scene, but one that The Wombats seems to love. Energetic electric tinged explosions ‘Cheetah Tongue’ and ‘Give Me a Try’ kicked off the night. In a music festival spirit, The Wombats slammed the audience with bombastic waves of rock and pop energy, the crowd moving in an uproar with acceptance and glee. As there is no rest for the weary, the band continued with the feverish output, with electronic heavy ‘1996.’

Pulling from their first album ‘Kill the Director’ took a dance rock pop edge, the rock progression continuing with anarchic ‘Black Flamingo.’ With each song The Wombats punch up the pressure, the crowd rises to their level with louder screams and more hands raised with each note. ‘White Eyes,’ ‘Techno Fan,’ and ‘Emoticons’ mix downtrodden dystopian rock with lighter pop instrumentals. With intermittent guitar rifts the songs take on a lively bombastic tone that is not as noticeable on their albums.

While some bands would take a break, bringing down the fervour with a tempered ballad halfway through the set, The Wombats show no sign of slowing. New album single ‘Lemon to a Knife Fight’ is a high-octane explosion of sound, intermingling the rock, pop and electronic genre, a sound that has seemingly come to typify The Wombats. Finally a small break comes, ‘I Don’t know Why I Like You but I Do’ is a insanely beautiful rock ballad that really displays both the instrumental and vocal prowess of the band. The lull in energy does not last long; ‘Pink Lemonade’ and ‘Jump Into the Fog’ bring electronic heavy dance vibes, rousing the crowd. ‘Moving to New York,’ ‘Lethal Combination,’ and ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ round out the set.

Most bands saunter back onto stage, finishing their set with a handful of songs before politely signing off. The Wombats, however, are not most bands. After an elongated turnover the lads prance back onto the stage. Launching into ‘Turn’ the room is transformed as massive balloons fall from the ceiling. As the balloons bounce around the crowd bodies turn in fury. It is an all out party, like the finale of a festival the energy overtakes and overwhelms. The ferocity continues as ‘Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)’ and ‘Greek Tragedy’ close the encore.

The Wombats know how to put on a show. While their songs are uptempo dance tinged pop rock, and therefore primed for a party, their live shows are elevated displays of ecstasy. It is easy to see how they have captured the love of so many. The Wombats ability to create escapists dancehall is unparalleled, an immersive world of pure joy. At the O2 Institute The Wombats, as well as the fans, sweated it out creating an all out rave that primed us all for the festival season ahead.

Reviewer: Kylie McCormick

Photographer: Ian Dunn

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